Iraq's rebuilt army would be in the market for Australian weapons and big-ticket items of military hardware, a senior local commander says.
Brigadier Hussan Zuyad, chief of the Iraqi National Guard for Al Muthanna province, said the arrival of Australian troops would give him an opportunity to evaluate their equipment. "We want many things because we are really starting from the ground rebuilding our army," he said.
"At the moment, we don't have anything."
Brig. Zuyad has been particularly impressed by the ASLAV troop carriers, which will be used by the Australians to cover Al Muthanna's vast expanse in south-western Iraq.
He has already quizzed the Australian contingent commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Noble, about the vehicle's specifications.
"We need that kind of armoured vehicle for our soldiers, yes," he said. "We also need tanks and heavy weapons of all kinds. We have very little medical equipment for the army. As we rebuild, these are the things we will be looking to buy."
Although procurement was not his responsibility, Brig. Zuyad said he would be making recommendations about the suitability of the Australian equipment to the Iraqi Defence Ministry in Baghdad.
He hoped to send a delegation of officers to Australia to inspect what was available.
The ASLAVs are made by General Dynamics Land Systems, based in the U.S., although some modifications are done in Australia and ADI provides ammunition for them.
However both ADI and another major Australia defence contractor, Tenix, said they would be interested in supplying equipment to the Iraqis if that fell within Federal Government export guidelines.
"We're currently embarking on a $250 million upgrade of the M113 armoured personnel carriers, which are tracked vehicles which could be of interest to the Iraqi National Guard," a Tenix spokesman said. "Our Adelaide-based division also makes specialised Land Rovers for the SAS and electronic systems like remote sensors for the Australian Army."
ADI spokesman Leigh Funston said the Iraqis would soon have the chance to see its Bushmaster troop mover in operation under Iraqi conditions.
"We would be more than happy to show any delegation from there around our Bendigo facility," he said.
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